SYMPOSIUM-WORLD FOOD DAY 2020: Improved Commodity Value Chain in the Agric Sector to be Sustained- Sabo Nanono

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment towards sustaining the improvement in the commodity value chain in the Sector by tackling the issue of land access, soil fertility, information, input access, production, among others.

He stated that the Green Alternative’s framework featured the first pillar on productivity enhancement for commodity value chain development, incorporation of private investments and institutional alignment.

The Minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu disclosed this during the Symposium/ Colloquium held on Wednesday 14, October 2020 at Chida International Hotel, in continuation of activities to mark the 2020 World Food Day which has the Theme: GROW, NOURISH, SUSTAIN.TOGETHER,’’ OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE’’, The Minister stated that ‘’ this year’s theme is carefully selected by reorganizing the immediate need of current government’s effort to intensify production and processing across the value chain and meet domestic capacity in the shortest possible time with a focus on closing the demand-supply gaps in the agricultural sub-sector that if not critically addressed might contribute to the global food crisis currently affecting the human race’’.

Nanono further stated that ‘’ the Ministry will ensure sustainable access, availability and affordability of quality food for all Nigerians and to be a significant net provider of food to the global community and in production of raw materials to meet the needs of the expanding industrial sector’’.He added that ‘’this forum would provide ample opportunity to highlight the achievements of the Ministry along with the various sub-sector activities and the planned implementation road map for the various initiatives embarked upon by the present administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’’.

The Minister further said that ‘’ policy direction is fashioned towards an increased agricultural output in the country, stressing the re-activation, and utilization of existing dams and irrigation facilities, strengthening agricultural extension services, implementing a private sector-driven mechanization Programme’’.

He pointed out that ‘’ streamlining the mandates and operations of research institutes and federal colleges in the sector, aligning the curricula of agricultural universities to the best technology and entrepreneurial practices, restructuring the bank of agriculture to promote agro-allied enterprises, collaborating with financial institutions to facilitate credits to agribusiness initiatives, mainstreaming youth and gender productivity ’’.

The Minister explained that the initiative would widen employment opportunities and sustain the contribution of agriculture to the country’s gross domestic product, aiding livelihood and achieve food security. He informed that ‘’the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) strategy would provide a disciplined approach to building an agribusiness ecosystem that would solve problems facing agriculture sector”, adding that “our primary focus in the agricultural sector is to ensure a virile foundation and from the implementation of the Green Alternative Policy’’.

The Minister lauded the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) immense contribution to agricultural development in Nigeria and other donor Agencies and NGOs particularly OXFAM, Action Aid Nigeria that has demonstrated commitment.

In his opening remarks, the FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Fred Kafeero, represented by Mr Abubakar Suleiman, said that the Organisation would continue to provide technical support for Nigeria’s government policies in the Agricultural sector. He disclosed the Organization’s intervention of farmers in Borno and Yobe states by providing quality fertilizer and agricultural inputs amongst several other interventions. In his Goodwill Message, the Chairman, the House of Representative, Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutes, Hon. Munir DanAgundi lauded President Muhammadu’s policies in the Agricultural sector which he observed has enhanced food sufficiency, job creation and economic growth.

He also pledged that the National Assembly would continue to support strong and robust laws for the betterment of Nigerians.In his lead paper presentation with the Theme: Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. ‘’ our Action Our Future’’, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Nasarawa State University, Prof. Olumuyiwa James Jayeoba, stated that the various organs of government and stakeholders should meet the needs of vulnerable populations through emergency food assistance and improved, more accessible, social safety nets.

Prof. Jayeoba also emphasized the importance of establishing evidence-based policies and legal support for sustainable food systems, such as regulations on nutrition, decent employment, and land resources.

WORLD FOOD DAY 2020 (MINISTERIAL PRESS BRIEFING): FG Targets 5 Million Jobs to Enhance Agric Productivity – Sabo Nanono

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has revealed that the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan(AFJP) Programme would create Five Million Jobs to enhance Agricultural Productivity, Food Security, economic growth and also mitigate the negative impact of the COVID – 19 Pandemic on Nigeria Farmers.

Speaking during the Ministerial Press Briefing to commence activities to celebrate the 2020 World Food Day with the Theme: GROW, NOURISH, SUSTAIN, TOGETHER, #OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE, held at the Minister’s Conference Hall in Abuja, TUESDAY 13, October 2020. THE Minister stated that the objective of the plan is to create Five million jobs in the agricultural sector by ensuring that farmers cultivate more land in each state, provide zero-interest loans to farmers and agricultural inputs among others. Alhaji Sabo Nanono stated that ‘’ out of the Five million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, the ministry has empowered 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiaries across the 36 states and the FCT under the first phase of implementation’’.

The Minister added that ‘’since the beginning of the 2020 farming season, the Ministry has distributed inputs in states across the country to boost food production. Nigeria last year recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops’’. He further said, ‘’according to the data in the Ministry, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT) respectively last year’’.

Nanono pointed out that ‘’ the same is obtainable for cassava with production increase from 58.47 MMT in 2018 to 73.91 – and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023. Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, milk and fish production also rose by 166%, 146% and 11% respectively between 2018 and 2019”. According to the Minister “as a nation, we consider the relevance of eradicating poverty and hunger and transforming our food production systems to ensure sustainable food security. Significant progress has therefore been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present administration”.

Speaking further, Nanono said, “to boost food security, Nigeria has curbed imports and has established a robust rice production programme to encourage more rice production at home. Efforts in this direction are starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of rice”. He added that “the country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world. A range of policies and initiatives to strengthen the rice and cassava value chains have been put in place.

The economic potentials of both livestock and fisheries are also being harnessed and respective value chains selected and targeted for development.”In an attempt to diversify the economy, the Minister explained that the “Federal Government has continued with its renewed focus on the agricultural sector.

The government has deepened the culture with the Anchor Borrowers programme initiative and ban on the importation of some agro-commodities”.He emphasized that ‘’ the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicate that Nigeria’s National Agricultural Import Bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira’’.

The Minister informed that ‘’ the Federal Government through the Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country, No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest’’.He assured that ‘’ the support was to complement the Federal Government’s policy on agriculture, which include: promoting food security, improving farmers production and also increasing exportation’’.

The Minister also stated that ‘’ a comprehensive flood mitigation and resilience plan for the affected farming communities nationwide have been finalized by the Ministry for consideration and approval by the President”, adding that the Ministry has raised her national food reserve stock to 109,657 MT, a figure expected to be increased to 219,900 MT by the end of 2020.

The World Food Day is celebrated by over 150 member nations annually on the 16th October and nations including Nigeria line up activities to mark the day such as a symposium/colloquium, agric and roadshow. But this year’s celebration is Low keyed in compliance with the global Covid -19 pandemic.

FOOD SUFFICIENCY: FG Set to Revitalize Rice Farms in Anambra State

The Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has stated that the Federal Government Rice Farms in Anambra State will be revitalized to boost rice production, create jobs and also improve the living standard of the people in the State and the region.

Speaking during his on the spot assessment of Federal  Government Rice Farms/ Mills in Omor and Umerum, located at Ayamelum Local Government Area of the State under Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme 1(ATASP-1), today, 28th September 2020, the Minister stated that’’ the Federal Government is vigorously pursuing and implementing programmes to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production because of its strategic importance as a major staple food crop in achieving food and nutrition security, import substitution and promotion of inclusive economic growth’’.

Shehuri noted that “ the present administration has provided various interventions to promote investment in the rice sector. As a result of these interventions, the country has increased its production from 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2015 to over 6 million metric tons by 2019 with a huge reduction in the nation’s deficit’’.  

The Minister further stated that ‘’ Some of the activities undertaken by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop the rice sector include the following: Provision of farm inputs such as agrochemicals, organic fertilizers, knapsack sprayers, planting & harvesting equipment such as reapers, mini combine harvesters, threshers at a subsidized rate in order to increase productivity.

He added that ‘’the Provision of modern rice milling machines of various capacities per day (10tons, 20tons and 50tons) with their accessories such as destoners, parboilers, dryers, colour sorters to small/medium scale processors who currently produce the bulk of Nigeria rice to improve the quality of their output, facilitated the establishment of 25 Nos. integrated rice mills by private investors nationwide so as to improve the quality of Nigeria milled rice to international standard and currently produce over one million metric tons of rice annually”.

Shehuri further said that ” the Ministry has established 23 Paddy Aggregation Centers nationwide to aggregate and store paddy. The centres were given to members of the Paddy Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN) under the public-private partnership arrangement”.
He stated that ‘’ there will be Dissemination of modern rice production and processing technologies through capacity building of farmers and processors directly and also in conjunction with the international donor agencies such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), German International Cooperation (GIZ), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI), AfricaRice’’.

He reiterated that ‘’ the Ministry is currently responding to the challenges of food availability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting smallholder farmers nationwide with various inputs including certified seeds of improved varieties of food crops such as rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, orange-flesh sweet potato, groundnut cowpea, soybean, yam, as well as cash crops like cashew, cocoa, sesame, oil palm, gum Arabic. Others include herbicides, pesticides and agricultural machinery such as rice reapers, transplanters, power tillers motorized sprayers and processing equipment. According to him, ‘’these are expected to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on farmers and ensure that they keep producing food for the country’’.The Minister informed that ‘’ this rice farm is sited here because of the recognition of Anambra State as one of the major rice-producing States in the South-East zone’’.
He thanked the Government of Anambra State for keying into the policies and programmes of the administration by promoting agriculture especially rice production and processing. He also appreciated Hon (Barr.) Vincent Ofumelu, for his passion and determination to improve the livelihood of his people.

In his remark, the House of Representative member of Oyi /Ayamelum Constituency of the National Assembly, Hon. (Barr) Vicent Ofumelu Stated appealed to the Minister to use his good office to intervene in reviving the pumping Stations located in Ifite Ogwari and Umueje communities to boost rice production and increase the locally generated revenue of the people. 
Hon. Ofumelu stated that the people are basically farmers and are desirous of Agriculture intervention policies of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also solicited for Agricultural Inputs, Quality Seeds and Financial grant to assist farmers in the communities.

The Minister also visited the Omor/ Umeum rice Farms, Giant rice Mill in Umumbo communities and commissioned a Blocks of Class Rooms sponsored by Hon. Vicent Ofumelu. 

FG Establishes Portal for Online Registration of Fertilizer Dealers for Quality Control – NANONO

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has revealed that the Ministry through the Department of Farm Inputs Support Services (FISS) has established an online portal called the National Fertilizer Management Platform for the registration of Fertilizer dealers in Nigeria.

He stated that the Initiative would ensure accessibility, transparency, accountability among fertilizer value chain players in order to create sanity in the fertilizer space.

Speaking during the Meeting /Workshop on Operationalization of the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act and Regulations held at the Debbie’s Upper Class & Recreation Limited, Nyanya- Karshi Expressway, Orozo in Abuja, on Monday 22nd September 2020, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono stated that the portal would strategically guarantee that all relevant stakeholders are properly and adequately guided on the use of fertilizers.

Alhaji Sabo Nanono noted that the training of stakeholders on fertilizer code of practice, product handling, use and management practices, said, ‘’this is with a view to equipping you for advisory services to farmers as they come to buy fertilizers from you’’.

The Minister stressed that there is a need for a robust public awareness campaign and continuous sensitization of the general public on the fertilizer regulatory system.Nanono charged, ‘’all the fertilizer players to re-double their efforts and carry on with your businesses in line with the provisions of the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act and the fertilizer Regulations’’, assuring that the Ministry will provide all the necessary support and assistance needed for the stakeholders to carry on their legitimate business unhindered.

He noted that‘’ Mr President has created ample opportunities for you the fertilizer players to reposition yourself to take advantage of the good and clear policy environment to grow your businesses’’.The Minister informed that ‘’ the Ministry officials will be engaging the relevant stakeholders during the 3-day workshop in three separate orders; – Day 1 for inorganic fertilizer Suppliers (Manufacturers/Blenders and Importers), Day 2 for organic fertilizer suppliers and Day 3 which is the last day for agro-dealers (distributors)’’.

He added that the workshop is to ensure participation of all stakeholders in the implementation process.In his welcome address, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu, represented by Director in the Permanent Secretary‘s office, Engr. Mohammed Bello said that ‘’the purpose of this workshop is to discuss the critical areas of the fertilizer Act in order to enhance our understanding of the operations of the fertilizer regulatory system’’.

Dr Mu’azu further said that ‘’ the interest of the Ministry is not to watch individuals violate the law and pay penalties but to ensure maximum compliance in order to grow the local fertilizer industry and the agricultural sector’’.In his goodwill message, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Dandutse Muntari Mohammed, pointed out that ‘’the Act was enacted to protect the interests of the farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration as well as the investments of fertilizer industry players’’.

He assured of the National Assembly’s support on the implementation of the Act.While giving a vote of thanks, Director, Farms Inputs Support Services Department in the Ministry, Engr. Tunde Bello thanked the stakeholders for their commitment and technical support towards the actualization of the NFQC Act and Regulations.

President Buhari Appoints Bashir Babajo, Executive Director, Operations (NAIC), Reappoints Philip I. Ashinze Executive Director, Finance And Administration (NAIC)

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Bashir Tijjani Babajo as Executive Director Operations, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), for a period of four (4) year term in the first instance with effect from 1st August 2020 and has also renewed the appointment of Philip Ashinze as Executive Director, Finance and Administration for a second and final four (4) year term with effect from 1st August 2020.
Mr. President’s approval was conveyed to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono in a letter with reference number, SH/COS/42/3/A/988, singed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Congratulating the Executive Directors on their appointments, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanno called on the Executive Directors to bring their wealth of experience to bear and ensure the continuous implementation of NAIC’s mandate in accordance with extant laws and other subsisting rules and regulations.
Nanono further advised the EDs to justify the confidence reposed in them by working with all stakeholders to ensure harmony in the Agricultural sector and in support of Mr President’s Next Level Agenda.
The Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation is wholly – owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria, an insurance corporation company set up to specially provide agricultural risks insurance cover to Nigerian farmers.

FG Reaffirms Commitment towards Implementing the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act 2019

The Permanent Secretary, Federal of Agricultural and Rural Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment towards implementing the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act 2019 by ensuring that fertilizer regulatory system is in place. The initiative would increase agricultural productivity for national food security.

Speaking during the Operationalization of the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act, 2019 meeting held at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday evening, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu stated that the policy would safeguard the interest of the farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims, short weight.

Dr. Mu’azu noted that ‘’it will also safeguard interests of fertilizers enterprises , thereby creating part of the enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertilizer industry and protect the environment against potential dangers that may result from the use of harmful substances in fertilizer’.

He informed that ‘’ the ministry has however been unrelenting in the bid to set in motion the enforcement of the Fertilizer Act and accordingly develop regulations for its implementation which has been forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for review by legal draftsmen and subsequent gazetting’’.
The Permanent Secretary added that ‘’ in the implementing regulations are the steps, processes, procedures and guideline for effective enforcement of the NFQC Act’’.

He stated that ‘’ the ministry has listed the services /activities necessary for the enforcement of the Act and is, therefore, proposing fees, tariffs and charges that will be prescribed for the various services to be rendered for consideration and adoption’’.

He further said that ‘’ this meeting is being convened to enable us holistically examine the proposed charges /fees. In our deliberations, the above key objectives must be put into utmost consideration and none of it should be compromised’’.

In his presentation on key areas of the NFQC Act and the regulations, Prof. Yemi Akinseye – George (SAN), said that ‘’ the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders of the fertilizers industry have taken the bull by the horn by enacting a robust legal framework for quality control in the country’’.

Prof. Akinseye – George urged that ‘’ all hands must be on deck to ensure full implementation of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019’’.
In his introductory remark, Director, Department of Farm Inputs Support Services in the Ministry, Engr. Tunde Bello stated that ‘’ the meeting will address the critical issues relating to the operationalization of the NFQC Act 2019 , particularly issue of charges and the regulation of the manufacture, importation, distribution, sales and quality of fertilizers in Nigeria’’

IN OWERRI: Imo Smallholder Farmers Benefit from Improved Seeds, As FG Distributes Free Inputs In the South East.

The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment towards ensuring that Smallholder farmers across the country have access to quality seeds, stating that it is a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security and industrialization of the agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono disclosed this during the flag-off /roll-out ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers at Hero Square, New Owerri, Owerri, Imo State over the weekend having performed similar task earlier in the South-South. Alhaji Sabo Nanono explained that ‘’through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase quality seeds, the resilience of farmers, accessibility and the national food systems in general’’.

The Minister noted that ‘’the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers’’.
Alhaji Nanono also stressed that ‘’ this coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.

The minister informed that ‘’ the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds, seedlings of cocoa, sprouted nuts of oil palm, vines of orange flesh, sweet potatoes, one node vine cuttings of yam and its seeds and groundnut seeds as part of the Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and prevent food scarcity in 2021.

He further said that ‘’ the Ministry is distributing 20,000 cocoa seedlings over 5,000 oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500 kg cashew seeds to farmers in Imo state. In addition, yam farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups will be supported with 20,000 nos one node vine cuttings and 10,000 nos foundation seeds of yam as well as 200 litres of pathway organic growth enhancer. Potatoes farmers will benefit from 1,500 bundles of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes that were distributed at the occasion, and 200 litres of pathway organic solution for the yam farmers’’.

Nanono said the Ministry “is also supporting groundnut farmers through the Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (GPPMAN) with improved 3 mt groundnut seeds. These seeds, seedlings, nuts, vines and other inputs are being given to farmers free’’.

He disclosed that in the roll out distribution exercise, “at least 35% of the agricultural inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly’’.

The Minister informed that ‘’the next major roll-out of support to farmers will take place in Borno State, where improved wheat, groundnut and rice seeds, as well as gum Arabic seedlings, will be distributed to farmers nationwide along with their inputs’’.In his remark, the Executive of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma lauded the Agricultural policies and visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in the sector geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and economic growth. He said, ” Imo State will buy into the Agriculture policy because the state has Agricultural potentials which will create jobs for its teeming youth population and boost the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and Nigeria in general “.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo State Dr. Lambert Orisakwe noted that “Imo State is predominantly an agrarian society where every family is engaged in one form of agricultural practice or the other”. He said the coming of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to distribute agro palliative to farmers in the state is a welcome development. This August and memorable occasion is very refreshing and calls for a celebration “.
In her Goodwill message the Commissioner of Livestock Development, Imo state , Hon. Obiageri Ajoku called for a robust synergy relationship with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development towards achieving food and nutrition in Nigeria.

While giving a vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mrs. Karima Babangida thanked the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma for gracing the occasion and flagging off the seed distribution exercise of oil palm, cashew, rice, yam, potatoes, groundnut, and cocoa to farmers; and the organic growth enhancer for higher yield of the crops especially yam and orange flesh potatoes.

IN CALABAR: FG Flags-Off Distribution of Agricultural Inputs in Cross Rivers.

In the on – going efforts to mitigate the impact of covid-19 in the agricultural sector across the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono  on 6th August 2020, flagged off the distribution of the Ministry’s palliative incentive to Nigerian farmers in  Calabar, Cross River State, the South-South Geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The Minister said that the effort is to increase the resilience of farmers and the national food systems in general.

The Minister at the event which held at the Murtala Mohammed Highway, Ikot Effanga, Mkpa, Calabar, said that ‘’ with COVID-19, the priority of every country in the world is to ensure limited disruption to its food supply chains , noting that  a number of countries have banned or drastically reduced food exports to avoid scarcity of food’’.

Alhaji Nanono stressed that ‘’since smallholder farmers are the most vulnerable, it become imperative for the government to support them with the much-needed inputs especially seeds, which is the most important factor that influences farmers’ yield in order to enable them to recover quickly from the set back of the Pandemic’’.

Nanono stated that ‘’the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of cocoa seedlings, improved oil palm sprouted nuts and cashew seeds as part of the  Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021’’.

He pointed that the Ministry and its research institutions are working towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in good quality seed and its availability to farmers as a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security as well as industrialization.

Nanono further said that ‘’ the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.  This coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians’’.

He said that ‘’ the Ministry will support the oil palm farmers, with 5,000 improved oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500kg improved cashew seed, the cocoa farmers will also be supported with 20,000 cocoa seedlings and agrochemicals. In addition, Rice farmers will be supported with 1,000 kg of rice seeds’’.

The Minister informed that ‘’ this is the fifth in the series of the distribution of the Ministry’s palliative incentive to farmers nationwide. The most recent being in Lokoja, Kogi State where the ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (HADM&SD) to flag-off the distribution of Soybean, sesame, cashew and potatoes as well as fertilizers’’.

He explained  that ‘’ at least 35% of the inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.   This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly”.

The minister urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of these inputs to produce food for the nation ,adding that the State Governments and other stakeholders should provide similar support to farmers ‘’so that together we can defeat COVID-19 Pandemic and become self-sufficient in food production’’.

He acknowledged the cooperation and support received from Development Partners like OCP Africa Limited and International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in the fight against the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on our food security.

In his remark, the Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State, Prof. Ben Ayade informed that the State government has laid a foundation for Agricultural empowerment, which would lead to job creation and economic development. “this policies will enrich our farmers especially women and Youth”.

While giving her goodwill message, the Director – General, National Centre for Woman Development, Barr.  Mary  Ekpere-Eta stated that the Centre would commence ICT training for 100 Women farmers, adding that the policy will ensure that the women acquire basic technology based for their farming business. 

In separate goodwill  messages delivered at the event, speakers including the Cocoa Farmers Association, National Palm Produce  Association of Nigeria, Cashew Farmers Association, AFAN and the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture , Forestry and Wildfire Resources Management, University  of Calabar, Prof Ausaji Ayuk commended the leadership of the Ministry for its proactive steps to reach out to the Smallholder farmers in this critical times  of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture of the Ministry, Mrs. Karima Babangida, noted that the choice of Cross River State is not out of place as it has contributed significantly to the production of oil palm, cashew cocoa among others to the national economy, ‘is why we want to ensure that they get good quality seeds that will help Nigeria to be self-sufficient in staple food production’’. 

COVID-19 INTERVENTION: Agric for Food and Job Plan Kicks-Off in Katsina as FG Flags-Off Economic Sustainability Plan

The Federal Government has launched the Agriculture for food and job plan AFJP), a major take-off for the agriculture component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) targeting smallholder farmers. The project would mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and livelihoods of farmers by creating more access to food for and the rapid emergence of competitive food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono stated this during the official launch of the Agriculture for food and job plan(AFJP) in Funtua, Katsina State, today, Thursday 23rd July 2020. Alhaji Sabo Nanono informed that Mr President set up an Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo to fashion out a plan on COVID -19 intervention.

Alhaji Nanono said ‘’one of the strategies adopted by the Committee is the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), stating that the Programme will aid the transformation of the Nigerian agriculture from its largely low yielding and subsistent state to a high yielding technology-based farming system’’.Speaking further, he said that the strategies would generate appropriate welfare gains consistent with the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Green Alternative strategies.

The Minister said that the plan, “is also in tandem with the three-pronged action plan of the Ministry to deal with the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and farmers’’. Nanono explained that ‘’these measures include among others, the life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable households to buffer the impact of COVID-19, such as the release of about 100,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities from the National Food Reserve to several groups and communities”.

The Minister highlighted the deliverables of the AFJP as contained in the NESP in 12 months: ” creation of between 5- 10 million jobs in the agric sector, produce about 10,000,000 MT of food, cultivate between 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per State based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers tied to farmlands, input financing loan to farmers will be zero interest, land clearing and preparation support, among others “.Accordingly, the Minister, ” this symbolic launch represents over 1,100,000 smallholder farmer-beneficiaries in 36 states and the FCT on the Batch A list under 6 partners namely AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric and Oxfam. We will soon be announcing Batch B beneficiaries”, he averred.

He lauded the continuous support of OCP AFRICA Fertilizer Limited for its initiative “”in the provision of soil testing equipment and supply of 20 units of OCP branded Motorcycles, Android Tablets and safety of kits to support the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development meant to support Extension Services”.In his Goodwill Message, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, stressed that the Agric sector is the bedrock of the economy and appreciated the efforts of the Federal Government under the Leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for his visionary policies in the Agric sector.

The Chairman, House Committee on Agric. Production Services, Hon. Muntari Danduste, during his Goodwill message, thanked Mr President for providing COVID – 19 Agricultural intervention palliative to the farmers in Katsina State which he said would cushion the effects of the Pandemic on 2020 farming season in the state and the nation at large.In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Abdulkadir Mua’zu, represented by the Director, Department of Agriculture Extension, Engr. Frank Kudla said that ‘’ your presence here is an indication of our recognition intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the efforts of the Ministry to reposition Nigerian agricultural system and increase farmers’ resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated negative impacts. Your continuous support will go a long way in ensuring that the objective of the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan is achieved’’. Dr Mua’zu noted that ‘’our coming together is because we are determined to join forces for action against COVID-19 pandemic, hunger and poverty. I, therefore, implore you all, especially our partners, to work hard to ensure that the core activities of these Project are carried out to a logical conclusion in the coming months’

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